Govt Falters on Elevated Railway Tracks Plan; No Sign of Work after 3 years of Vow
Even after three years of a vow that was taken and a claim that was made, the government has failed to initiate any work on elevating the city’s railway tracks. In 2016, a G Plus report raised the issue of how Guwahatians wasted 18 hours a day at level crossing gates. The same was escalated to the then Union Minister of Railways, Suresh Prabhu, who instantly sanctioned the elevation of the railway tracks running through the city to eliminate such level crossings. But till date no sign of progress in the workflow can be seen.
A highly placed source in the Northeast Frontier Railways (NFR) talking to G Plus under condition of anonymity said, “Nothing has started till now and we are not even sure it will happen. There is no initiative taken on this till date.”
In the Union Budget 2017, an investment of over Rs 5,000 crores to construct a 12-km-long elevated railway corridor inside Guwahati was announced. But it seems it was just a fake promise. In 2018, the Centre announced the same and immediately the NFR claimed then that the location survey had started and would be completed soon. The NFR had also then claimed that after the location survey is completed, tender would be floated for execution of work.
All the level crossings in Guwahati were planned to be eliminated with the elevated railway track running from New Guwahati Station to Kamakhya Station.
TVUs (Train Vehicular Unit) of all the city railway level crossings suggest that the crossings have, since long, required road over-bridges/underpasses to eliminate traffic congestion in the relevant areas but the governments (both state and Centre) had not bothered to take any action.
State govt turns a blind eye to railway level crossing issue; Guwahatians waste 18 hours everyday
The state government has claimed to be constructing five flyovers over the city roads at various locations to decongest traffic, but has snubbed the long pending issue of railway level crossings where Guwahatians waste 18 hours every day.
There are around 13 level crossings between Kamakhya and Narengi and 8 level crossings between Kamakhya and Guwahati Railway station. Railways carry out a yearly survey to find the train vehicular unit (TVU) to understand which level crossings should be converted into road over bridges or underpasses.
The railways, before constructing any railway track, study the TVU of every crossing and decide where there should be an over bridge or an underpass.
TVU is calculated by an arithmetic formula by studying the number of vehicles commuting through a particular crossing and also the number of trains plying through the same crossings.
According to a source in the Northeast Frontier Railways (NFR), if the TVU of a particular crossing is found to be more than 1 lakh units, that crossing requires a road over bridge. The source also said that before constructing the broad gauge track line in Guwahati in 1984, the TVUs for all the crossings were studied and wherever it was required an over bridge was made.
The source also revealed that the railways carry out a survey every year and TVU is calculated for every crossing. Thereafter, till the next ten years of construction of railway tracks, if it is found that the TVU of a particular crossing requires a road over bridge or underpass, the railways construct it at its own expense.
After ten years the responsibility gets shifted to the government which is the owner of the road, and the yearly TVU calculation survey keeps continuing. Such TVU readings are sent to the state and the central governments.
After ten years if it is found that the TVU has exceeded 1 lakh units of a particular crossing, the state or the central government sends a proposal to the railways to construct an underpass or over bridge at the crossing for which the railways bear 50% of the construction cost.
G Plus studied the TVU units to find out which level crossings require an underpass or over bridge. If the TVU is above 80,000 units, the particular crossing requires a road underpass and if it is above 1 lakh units, the crossing requires a road over bridge.
According to the findings of the TVUs, of all the level crossings in Guwahati, it was found that only two crossings require road underpass, and all other crossings (11) require road over bridge.
The state government should initiate the construction of the elevated tracks, but sources in the railways claimed that the Assam government has never taken any such initiative. When a train passes through a crossing, the level crossing gates are closed for approximately for 13 minutes each time. Approximately 82 trains passes the level crossings everyday, which means the gates are closed for 18 hours a day.
So the commuters waste 18 hours a day at railway level crossings especially in areas like Fancy Bazar, Lakhtokia, Chandmari etc, but the state government is not giving any importance to the issue which the Centre promised to resolve 3 years ago.